Joe’s WX Blog: Thundersnow!

Posted on: 9:04 am, February 25, 2013, by , updated on: 11:10pm, February 25, 2013

10

Snowfall rates have certainly increased over the last few hours and the roads in places are getting snow-covered and or slushy.. Use caution for the rest of the night and of course tomorrow as well. Temperatures are in the 32-36° range so a lot of the heavy snow (probably already have lost 1″ of accumulation from the storms potential) has melted, especially on the roads etc. but again that is changing as of 11PM.

Here is a look at radar showing the mostly snow snow. Clinton, MO reported moderate snow and there is more snow (which will track this way later tonight) developing across C KS.

Still some weird questions about the storm itself. Exactly where the pivot point sets up, how the snow rotates through the region, what the temperatures are when all this occurs?  We’ll just be watching radar overnight and seeing how things play out. We continue to run with the forecast snowfall graphics below this entry. So with that said here is an updated 11PM timeline…

Now through 9AM: heavy snow continues and the snow rates should eventually overcome the melting. When you wake up tomorrow before daybreak there should be at least 4-8″ on the ground, and hopefully from a forecasting standpoint a bit more than that because from there we should pick up more snow but lessor snow rates per hour. Again this should be the bulk of our snowstorm and we still expect rush hour to be a mess.

Tuesday 9AM-6PM: Periods of snow with varying intensities. We should still see accumulations in the 1-3″ range…add into the above and there are your totals.

Tuesday 6PM-Wednesday Noon: Occasional snow showers/flurries with 1-2″ accumulations possible. we start the digging out process.

So that is the way things are laying out. Should I need to update things I will later tonight towards 1-2AM or so. I’ll be working with an ipad and it doesn’t work as nicely from a blog standpoint but I can do some rudimentary stuff and perhaps will just start a new entry which is probably due since this blog now is about 3000 words.

Have a great night and we’ll visit tomorrow AM.

JL

Some of the new evening data shows about the same precipitation totals as the previous data, and again bulls-eyes (sp?) areas south of KC with more snow. That is what we’ve reflected in our updated snowfall map. We do have a band of moderate to heavy snow moving through the metro as I type this update (9:15) in between tweets and weather updates on the news every 15 minutes so it’s a crazy night! There are still a few things that both MT and I are uncomfortable with concerning the storm but at some point you have to put the information out there and let the chips fly so here goes. In reality it’s really not a lot different that what we showed you earlier today on the blog and on FOX 4 and for that matter what we showed yesterday during the weekend newscasts.

snow

We just had THUNDER at 9:17 here at the station!

Here is a wider view…showing the axis of heaviest snow towards the south of the metro. Some areas may pick up over 16″ of snow in that purple shade.

snow

More soon!

+++++++++

I’ve been dying a slow death over the last 6 hours or so, looking at everything and trying to exactly figure out what is happening and why outside and what will be happening later tonight. The new title to the blog refers to the feeling of being somewhat down on the storm, looking at some very short term models and then feeling better by actually looking at radar and seeing the all this rain and some mixed precip move our way, which the various models did not do a good of handling for this afternoon.

So where are we now. Well as of this writing 3:30 or so, were seeing a bunch of rain with some embedded flakes and ice pellets move into the area. Temperatures are in the 30s so whatever falls will be inconsequential I think for the area roads as they will be wet for rush hour and that should be about it.

Our storm is close to the Red River in NC Texas and seems to be going through an evolution as I type this, and this is one of those pins that is sticking me. I don’t like it when storms go through these types of evolutions because there is a tendency for the expected processes of the storm to then change throwing doubt into forecasting.

The storm has been a big one in the TX Panhandle through parts of OK. Amarillo has had 17″ of snow with 70-75 MPH winds with snow drifts of 5-8 feet I think. Very impressive, but they are considerably closer to the upper level storm itself. As a matter of fact this is their second biggest snowstorm for Amarillo. So far that is. They’re all time record is 20.6″.

The title of the blog also refers to the ups and downs (challenges) of figuring this stuff out and it’s been challenging to say the least because things are evolving in front of us making things tricky. I’m still confident in the snow for the KC area, the northern edge to the accumulating snow will be sharp and the southern sections of the viewing area should still get a bunch of snow. The KC metro is in between meaning we think the NW and N side of the metro will get lessor totals than SE side of the area…let’s say from Lees Summit to Spring Hill and southwards. I still think it’s very possible some folks are going to get 12+” out of this…and the odds favor areas SE of the metro I feel at this juncture. I will post additional details on the model data shortly. MT and I are doing all the forecasting for the next 7 days now and then we’ll revert back and try to figure out the snow amounts for the viewing area and I will tweet that image out when we make our decisions. We’re mostly at this point in the same thought process so it will be a matter of massaging our ideas into something for a map on the air.

So let’s update the timeline…

Now though 9PM: Rain with some snow and a mix moving through the region. No significant accums expected. Roads just wet. Occasionally the precip will be on the moderate side.

9PM- Tuesday 3AM: Not as bad as originally thought. Heaviest snow should hold off till the wee hours of tomorrow morning. Some snow is expected and we may see 1-3″ accumulation (maybe some initial melting) in this time from from the metro southwards. Winds start to increase to 20-30 MPH

Tuesday 3AM-9AM: This will now be the bulk of the storm. Note the delayed arrival. If this forecast is going to bear fruit, then I think it HAS too happen in this time frame. Additional accumulations with moderate to heavy snow could be 4-8″ from the north side through the south side of the metro. Perhaps even more in those areas targeted for the heaviest snow which we will illustrate on a map for you towards 5PM. Winds 25-35 MPH means considerable blowing snow making snow removal tougher we feel. Also watch those east and west roads for the most drifting of the snow depending on how wet it is as it falls

Tuesday 9AM-6PM: Occasional Snow showers with some potential for about 1″ in additional accums. Should be a bit more on the MO side in the backwash of the storm.

Tuesday 6PM-Wednesday 6PM: Maybe some additional flurries or snow showers…accums look minor at this point

Again a lot can change but at this point these are our ideas in the Weather Center

JL

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Well the day has dawned pretty gray as expected with temperatures in the upper 20s for the most part. So far things are progressing according to plan but there are some changes needed for the timing of the breakout in the more significant snowfall…with the worst of the storm being delayed by about 3 hours or so which, if you have evening plans, is a GOOD thing.

Also for those new to the weather blog, welcome to my thoughts and ramblings. I try to add at least one new blog a day, virtually 7 days a week so its a great resource for learning about the whys and what fors of what’s happening and it also gives me an opportunity to write and show you things that I don’t have time for on the air or really isn’t practical to the TV side of things. So with that said this will be another “fluid” blog today with updates in the afternoon/evening and night.

So how will you know when the blog is updated. When I do updates I will post a note on our twitter account so what you need to do is follow us @fox4wx. Another way to find out is to “like” us on our Facebook pages. Fox 4 Morning News, Fox 4 Nightside and Fox 4 Weather. The problem with FB is that many people, apparently because of the way FB prioritizes your timeline, don’t see the notifications I guess. That’s why I love using Twitter so much more!

Finally the other way of getting great weather information is through our new iOS app that’s available to download for your IPAD etc and for your android set-up and there is some great weather information on it.

As a matter of fact see what Jess has to say about our iOS app.

I LOVE IT!  I just downloaded the app and read today’s blog…WOW!  This is going to sound funny, but I’ve never felt better about the weather. I mean, I’m nervous about the storm and the large amount of snow coming, however, I feel very informed and educated.  This helps me prepare for the next few days, both at home and work.

THANK YOU JOE!!!  I know the blog can take you a couple hours at times to write, but it is very appreciated.”

OK now onto the storm…it’s down there and spinning like a top right now but it’s still a long ways away from the area and it will take about another 12+ hours for it to really get here and we may be waiting till well after 9PM for the snow aspect to get going, perhaps closer to Midnight. Here is the latest surface map of the Midwest. This shows the pressure contours and the black lines are called isobars…those are lines of equal pressure. What you will see heading into tonight and tomorrow is a closed circulation with many isobars (circles) surrounding it. That is the storm that will be intensifying as it gets going tonight into tomorrow.

So that by tomorrow AM this is what the forecast map looks like…the coloring on the map indicates the amount of precipitation that has fallen between Midnight and 6AM Tuesday morning…wow! That is a lot of moisture of which most if not all will be snow for the KC area…with that amount of “liquid” precip forecasted and temperatures in the atmosphere supporting snow, that would be coming in at the rate of 1-3″/hour!!!!!!

The thing is, the storm will keep on giving. Through Tuesday there will be additional, although not as heavy accumulations with the off/on snow. So keep in mind the snowfall graphics that we use are a cumulative thing and we’ll judge the forecast accuracy by Wednesday, if not earlier.

As I’ve said ALL weekend, 75 miles…that’s all we need is 75 miles to avoid the worst of the storm. The newest NAM model this AM is in and it’s just pounding areas from KC southwards, especially Downtown southwards with extreme precipitation. I just checked the atmospheric soundings and while we’re not really there for snow @ 9PM tonight we get there area wide by Midnight, so most of what falls will be snow. Here is the map showing the “total liquid equivalent” of moisture according to the newest NAM model.

ScreenHunter_12 Feb. 25 08.41

Click on that image to make it larger. Again remember that about 1″ of liquid is about 10″ of snow in this scenario…so you can see why forecasting amounts of 12-16+” was part of my snow prediction yesterday. Now will it happen? The models with our previous storms have been overly aggressive with the “liquid equivalent” forecast. So IF we cut the totals about by about 25%…even perhaps a bit more, you still get over 1″ of liquid equivalent for KC southwards…which will equate to about 12″ of snow give or take. IF the cutback is not that great you get more…hence my thoughts from yesterday.

The storm now is towards the Plains in W TX. It’s produced a bunch of snow already in the TX/OK Panhandle area with Amarillo reporting close to 8″ and others close to 12″ and there have been reports of thundersnow down there.

You can clearly see it spinning across the western part of TX in this satellite loop.

The only thing that bothers me about this storm is how far south it is…it should start coming more northwards towards the Red River this afternoon but should the track of the storm deviate 75 miles farther south, that sharp cutoff to the precip totals that I showed you on the above graphic would also be shifted 75 miles farther south…and instead of 36 highway as a rough cutoff to the more significant accumulations (3″+) in NW MO, all of a sudden the cutoff to the significant snow is through the metro or even south of KC. Trust me, I’ve been fully aware of this potential all weekend and I’ve talked about it all weekend on the blog and on the air. It’s something that will be hanging in the air with me till the snow gets to our front door.

I was briefly talking to a colleague of mine this AM and was saying that I feel like it’s a “cop out” but it really isn’t. In the world of weather the drive from Topeka to KC (75 miles or so) is not a big drive at all for Mother Nature…and that’s what may separate us from a massive winter storm and a “not a big deal snow”.. Right now I think Mother Nature doesn’t make that drive and we get a biggie in KC and southwards.

I just got this map showing the NAM forecast for snowfall taking everything into account that I wrote about this AM…take a look at it and see why I keep harping on the 75 mile thing.

ScreenHunter_13 Feb. 25 09.01

Going from nothing to everything in the course of about 25-50 miles…wow! Look at where the bulls-eye is centered.

Here is the HI-res NAM model…again showing a VERY sharp northern cutoff but the snow amounts are amazing on the south side of the KC area into SE KS…that’s close to 30″ in SE KS.

ScreenHunter_15 Feb. 25 09.18

One final map showing the EXTREME cutoff through N Platte county from the snowfall…

ScreenHunter_16 Feb. 25 09.41

So with all that said here is an updated timeline…

Rest of today through 6PM: Cloudy skies, some light rain may move into the southern part of our viewing area this afternoon and move towards the metro this evening. It should only be rain with temps in the 30s and road temps above freezing.

Tonight 6PM-9PM: Cloudy skies some light rain in the region…again roads should be OK as temperatures slowly start to fall.

Tonight 9PM-Tuesday 12AM: Rain starts to transition to snow and becomes heavier from KC southwards. Snow will start to stick and accumulate

Tuesday 12AM-9AM: The heart of the storm as the core of it passes south of us. Radar should show an intense band of snow pivoting up towards us and then just stalling and it should essentially pour down snow for a 6-9 hour period where most of our accumulations will occur. Winds gust to near 30 MPH…there will be lots of blowing snow. Assuming there is no track change to the storm. From KC southwards 6″ on the N side to upwards of 12″ on the south side of the metro is very doable in this time frame. Again assuming NO track change

Tuesday 9AM-6PM: Periods of snow with varying intensities. We should still see accumulations in the 1-3″ range…add into the above and there are your totals.

Tuesday 6PM-Wednesday Noon: Occasional snow showers/flurries with very minor accumulations possible. we start the digging out process.

Oh and IF your wondering why this MAY NOT be a “true” blizzard by definition, it would be because of the winds not meeting the gusting to 35 MPH for a 3 hour period. Although they may get to the edge of that criteria in KC.

OMG…I feel like an expectant father!

Like I’ve said…the track is key!

Joe

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